Saturday, March 28, 2009

Experimental Tires On The Ciocc, And A Fast Lake Wa Loop

After doing the 200k last Saturday on 700x23mm tires (was trying something smaller, didn't make much difference besides a little more road buzz), I've been thinking about the Grand Bois 28's that I have lying around. When I rode those on the September 600k last year, I loved 'em. Felt like riding on clouds, at least compared to what I was used to.

I've done brevets on 23's, 25's, and 28's so far, and the 25mm width was my fave for a while, but if the Pacer could fit the Grand Bois 28's with the full fenders, I'd probably use them all the time. They've just been sitting in a pile of tires that I have ever since I got fenders for the Pacer.

Not sure why I'd never tried this before, but I finally wondered, "What about the 28's on the Ciocc?!" I've used Gatorskin 25's on that bike before, and rembered the tight clearance, but wanted to check anyway.

The answer is yes. Sort of.

The rear fit isn't too close - probably more than 5mm of clearance around the brake and frame.
Seat tube, however, is a close call...
Seat tube #2 shot...

So that's what, 1-2 mm of clearance? I figure the worst that'll happen is rocks might scratch the paint, I can live with that. It's a tool, not a jewel, as they say.

Front clearance:

On the first test ride it felt like I was riding on balloons compared to the 23's I had on there before. On my 20 minute test spin around The Hill, I hit up some of the roughest roads around: 11th ave near Aloha, a few streets near Volunteer Park. I've ridden on these roads on a variety of tires & bikes, and this time it felt like I was on different roads!

That was at about 80 psi, which might have been a bit low - the tires themselves recommend 105 psi, which seems high for tires so wide. I looked around online, and came up with 90 psi as a good pressure for these tires & my weight.

Lake Wa Loop On New Tires

I've done this ride more than any other loop, excluding my commute. And since most of the roads don't change that often, I've gotten to know them pretty well, even down to certain bumps here and there. That means it's easy to tell the difference on these tires, and I think they'll make next weekend's 300k much more comfortable, if I end up riding that bike.

Or maybe I'll go buy some 26's from Il Vecchio instead, which might be a bit more reasonable.

Anyway the outlook for Saturday is looking good! Although a 11 mph wind from the south might be a little annoying coming down highway 9 at the tail end of the ride..

Entire workout: (lake wa loop, ccw)
Duration: 3:10:26
Work: 2258 kJ
TSS: 204.9 (intensity factor 0.804)
Norm Power: 229w
VI: 1.16
Pw:HR: 1.25%
Pa:HR: 9.61%
Distance: 82.191 km
Elevation Gain: 1497 m
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 866 198 watts
Heart Rate: 97 192 155 bpm
Cadence: 15 123 81 rpm
Speed: 0 82.2 27.2 kph (16.9 mph)
Crank Torque: 0 203.2 23.2 N-m

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SIR's 200k "Chili Feed" Brevet: 2009 Edition

Ride to ride:

Well Saturday was the Big Day after all this waiting. Unfortunatey I forgot/didn't have time to eat a Big Breakfast, so a bagel with cream cheese and some coffee would have to do it for now. Grabbed some bananas and ensure on the way out, and hit the road (on Capitol Hill) for the ride down to Kent at 5:15 AM or so. (I was happy to already be making better time than last year at this point).

When I was in Renton on Rainier Ave, a van pulled up along side me, slowing down. All I could think was, "at this hour, this should be interesting!" Turns out it was Dan Boxer and Andy Speier, offering a ride to Kent! I turned it down, not wanted to "give up" on the extra effort I'd already signed myself up for on this day.

But it got me thinking that maybe I wasn't making such great time after all, given that they were headed to the same ride I was, only they were about to be there much faster than I was. With about 10 miles to go, and 45 minutes or so to do it, I figured I still had time.

The ride down to Kent is pretty flat and uneventful. At least this year I knew to expect a nice size climb just before Greg's house (this was a surprise last year). I ended up averaging 19 mph over this stretch, probably burning too many "matches" with such a long day ahead of me. Note to self: next time, start earlier so you can softly pedal to the ride!

I usually think of riding to the ride mostly in terms of extra time, not extra (wasted) energy. I'm a pretty patient person, so an extra hour or two isn't a big deal. But if I end up pedaling that extra hour or two at a fast pace, it can turn into "wasted" energy. Oh well.

At The Ride Start

I made it to the start in Kent at 6:45, with time to spare! Robert et. al. were sure to take note that I was actually on time, for once. There was a huge sea of bikes & people, and a big line for getting our control cards. We sat around and chatted for a few minutes, everyone antsy to get started (I know I was).

Riders waiting to start in Kent:

Kent to Dash Point: Soon enough it was time to go, and we all rolled out in a gigantic group of 100+ riders. On the downhill, Robert & I ended up with the front group (split up by stop lights), and stuck with them until just after the first control at Dash Point.

Our lead group for the first 40k or so: We knew it wasn't a tenable pace, but we held on just the same. It was fun to be out in front, but it was only a matter of time before we were to be let go.

Dash Point to Black Diamond: When we hit the big climb up to Black Diamond, I ended up in a 5-7 mph pace, and was dropped by the group. Damn. I saw it coming, and had to make a decision. Should I fight to keep up? It's a good-size climb, after all. Or would red-lining to make it be too much, and kill the ride?

My body made the choice for me, and I eased off and watched the pack of 5-6 riders disappear into the fog. Oh well, maybe I'd see them later, maybe not.

Foggy morning on the way up to Black Diamond:

Black Diamond to Greenwater: I rolled off alone from the bakery, after getting two donuts & some water. Thinking of catching up to Robert, but he must've been far off by that point.

Jan caught up to me and we rode together for a while. I asked him about his new Cycling Montagnards club (oh, how I minced the pronunciation!) - you join by doing a roughly 500km (300 mi) route, including a few passes, in less than 24 hours. Sounds like... a nice challenge! Might be something to shoot for in a lull between brevets or something. But for now, the goal was to finish this 200.

I hadn't quite bonked, but I was definitely riding slow. Too many calories burned, too few taken in.. The best I could do on flats was 25-28 km/h.. It seemed that Jan wasn't having the best day either, so we were a good match, at least for a little while.

Eventually he and a rider from Oregon Rando eventually passed me, as we first began the climb on Highway 410, near Enumclaw. Greenwater was about 16 miles up the road, but on the first sections of 7% or so, I was only doing 10 km/h, or 6 mph. Ugh.

A little while passing Mud Mountain Rd, I started seeing returning riders coming down the hill. These were the riders Robert & I had rolled with to Dash Point! But it was no surprise that they were about an hour ahead of me, I knew I coulnd't hang with them forever. I think Brian O. was the first rider I saw coming back - whoever it was, damn they're fast.

(On one of the training rides last month I ended up finishing the 44-miler with Brian, Thai, and a few other fast randos. Brian asked at one point if "they'd see me at the front of the pack this year?" Well, I think the answer to that is NO! At least not this time around..)

Highway 410 heading to Greenwater:

The climb up to Greenwater wasn't half as bad as I'd remembered from last year, and it seemed to go quickly.

Greenwater - It was about 1 PM. (three hours earlier than I got there on last year's edition of this ride). Oh man was I happy to get to Greenwater. I'd needed to go to the bathroom pretty much since the beginning of the climb, so that was a relief.

Up to this point, I'd kept the time spent at controls to at most 5 minutes, but this one was a bit longer. Ok, a lot longer. I think at least 30 minutes or so, and the reason for that was that I had that sick-stomach feeling, even to the point that my forehead felt cold & sweaty, and I felt like I could easily spew green water on Greenwater, but at least that didn't happen.

Chris & John were nice enough to wait for me to get going - they could tell I was in bad shape. At the end of the ride, more than one person said I looked rough at Greenwater. So much for my rando poker face..

But looking (and feeling) "rough" is a part of pushing yourself beyond the limits of what you normally should be doing. And that's certainly what this day was all about. Pushing it.

The Greenwater control:
Greenwater to Enumclaw - At least this part is mostly downhill, but I was still "coming to" in this section. Some fresh Sprite in my bottle was a needed shot of sugar and calories, but I still didn't feel 100%. Chris & John threatened to drop me on the downhill, but I eventually latched on to them.

We passed Greg, who was fixing a flat and eventually caught up to us. He rolled with us pretty much to the end, and was good compnay.

Circle-K in Enumclaw - I bought what I like to call a "mystery-meat" burrito thingy here, oh boy did that hit the spot. I hadn't really had any warm food all day, so this was much needed, even if it's horrible for your body, etc. Some green tea/honey drink (read: sugar-water) also hit the spot here, and I put most of it in the bottle.

Back to Kent - it was refreshing to know there were only twenty or so miles left at this point. Chris, John, and Greg rolled out from Circle-K, trying to catch a large group ahead of us. We came close to catching that group on the Whitney Hill Rd (?), a decently-big climb.

But right before that climb, a small miscommunication sent John into Chris' rear wheel, almost sending John to the pavement. But he kept himself upright, and after a short adjustment of his front skewer we were rolling again. Heading towards a one mile climb at 10% or so, but rolling nontheless.

The climb wasn't quite as bad as I remembered from last year, so that was nice. Not to say it was easy, but last year it felt soul-crushing. This year it was more like "this is going to burn all that extra energy, but not kill you."

A tiny bit of rain - the first of the day - started coming down as we neared the Cox residence. But none of us cared enough to put on more clothes, it was time to finish! I was happy to do a sub-10 hour 200k for once as well.

The Chili Feed At The Finish

Tired bikes at the finish:

Feeding randos:

The food at the end was great, huge thanks to the Cox family for organizing all this! And thanks to the volunteers along the route as well. See you all on the 300!

Ride Stats

Riders total: 118
DNFs: 5
Total gain: ~6,200 feet (WKO+ calcs ~9,000 ft)
Fastest finish: 7 hours, 35 mins
Slowest finish: 12:44 (I was one minute slower than that last year!)
Averge time: 9:53
My time: 9:40 (fastest 200 so far, woot!)
Results: here

Also here is the graph from WKO of my ride. The red line is Heart Rate, blue line is speed. See how the red line is really high for the first 2-3 hours of the ride? That was me not pacing! For the next brevet I'd like to see the HR graph stay level, we'll see.

More photos here & here. And Robert's blog post here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

First 2009 Brevet Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first of many Big Days for this season. Seattle Rando's 200k "Chili Feed" brevet. With 92 registered users as of this morning, it's gonna be a helluva a rollout!

For me it isn't the distance that makes it a Big Day (I've already done a 200k this year, and this ride will end up being more like 280k with all the commuting to and from) - it's the group aspect of it. Even if we'll end up splitting into smaller groups, there are few better feelings in this world than rolling with lots of like-minded riders. And in this case, like-minded means we're all crazy enough to spend a day or more on the road, unsupported.

Last year's edition of it was wet - that's the main thing I remember. Having started at 5:30 AM at my house in Seattle, I slogged through the rain only to show up late. Rode in wet socks until about 3 PM, when I bought some new ones in Greenwater.

This time around, you bet I'm bringing extra socks (extra gloves too).

Saturday Route Weather

Seattle: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Highs in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Southwest wind to 10 mph. [source]

The hourly forecast for Saturday shows a 50% chance of rain in Seattle, which is when I'll be rolling away from my door. But I can handle that, as it should clear up a bit as the day goes on (well I'm hoping anyway).

Greenwater: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Snow level 1500 feet. Afternoon pass temperatures in the upper 30s. Southeast wind in the passes 5 to 15 mph. [source]

Veloroutes shows the max elevation (in Greenwater, I presume) at ~1,800 feet. So that means we just might see some snow! I hear that last week's pre-ride did indeed encounter some of that in the Greenwater area. This could be interesting, but I'm all for some snow - makes for better pictures anyway.

Let the countdown to the Big Day begin...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SIR's 100k Urban Populaire 2009 - Another Wet One

On Sunday I headed out for the first of SIR's season - the 100km "Populaire". A short ride to get the blood pumping, kinks worked out, and new svictimss riders giving this whole rando thing a try. But since I'd done a hard ride the day before, I had no plans of setting new records - I just wanted to have a good social ride.

I really enjoy urban riding, even with all of the stop lights and traffic. I guess I've just gotten used to it, since I ride a mix of urban and rural routes. Some riders might say that it's just too dirty, crowded, and slow, but hey - that's the city! Sometimes there's more to see in the city, you just have to know where to look.

Before The Ride

When I woke up, I was happy that I didn't hear wet roads outside. Although upon looking out the window, this explained why! Snow:

But hey, it's not really cold enough (it was 40F or so) to stick, so I figured I'd head down to the ride anyway (this was at about 8:30 AM, the ride started at 9). For some reason, I expected to roll up to the start and see a ghost town, e.g. the ride was cancelled. But I should've guessed that with this tough bunch it would take more than a little snow to stop the ride.

Rolling through slush was fun, but slower than usual. So I got to the ride start maybe right at 9, but luckily the pre-ride talk was still happening. Eric Vigoren, the ride organizer was giving the talk:

The Ride

We headed up towards the Burke Gilman trail, and the snow had since turned to plain old rain. We can handle that, for sure! My Ibex wool gloves were soaked, but luckily Chris had some of my other gloves and I got to use them. There are few better feelings than sliding on dry gloves on a cold day!

Some of the hills up north (was it 92nd?) were pretty tough, with one section topping out at 23% grade, according to my Garmin unit.

Here is our pack (Andy, Chris, John, Robert) cruising into that harsh headwind:

And here's John W. on Alki, enjoying the brief tailwind we had:

Now at the Lincoln Park control. That little gravel trail was interesting.. reminds me I still need to clean off the bike! It's a mess.

I got a flat shortly after this stop, and Robert got a flat near the end, in the Central District (I think). It was one of those days, when you get the tube in, fill it up, and then boom, off comes the valve with the pump. But Robert got it fixed and we were rolling again (not before a few randos stopped to look/help/rest):

Full photo set on flickr.

Ride Data

Since it was to be a "long steady distance" day, I tried to take it easy for the most part. You can see here that I stayed below my threshold (yellow horizontal line) except for some of the climbs (the orange-ish line is elevation, and the red line is heart rate)
Also the last 20 minutes of the ride was the section after Seward Park, where I let loose and tried to empty every last bit of energy I had. It's nice to know that after 6 or so hours of toodling, I still had it in me to push it.

I think this was the crazy hill section on 92nd.. that part with the slush and 23% grade! I definitely had to go over threshold here a good deal to push myself up it in a 39x25 gear. 291 watts for the six or so minutes of climbing here:

OK so that was pushing it. At the top, I was certainly out of breath after that! But I'm sure I was worse off there last year, things are indeed improving.

Entire workout (124 watts):
Duration: 4:53:07 (8:21:33)
Work: 2429 kJ
TSS: 220 (intensity factor 0.673)
Norm Power: 192
VI: 1.38
Pw:HR: -17.38%
Pa:HR: -10.76%
Distance: 104.652 km
Elevation Gain: 2263 m
Elevation Loss: 2361 m
Grade: -0.1 % (-98 m)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 893 139 watts
Heart Rate: 53 183 130 bpm
Cadence: 15 123 65 rpm
Speed: 0 80.1 21.1 kph
Pace 0:18 0:00 2:51 min/km
Altitude: -36 149 35 m
Crank Torque: 0 198.9 20.5 N-m

Huge thanks to the ride organizers and the volunteers. It's great to see SIR back in action, with familiar faces and some new ones too. Here's to another rando season!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wet Mercer Island Saturday Loop

It was about 44 degrees (F), and raining today. Perfect almost-spring riding weather, and a good warmup for tomorrow's 100km Populaire.

So I went out in the mid afternoon rain, decked out in wool knickers, two underlayer t-shirts, and my long sleeve SIR jersey. Even in the light rain it felt great. So far, I'm loving the fact that most of the terrible weather is over. Well, at least that's what I'm hoping. Last year it seems like it was cold all the way up until May/June..

An extra layer between my shoes & the semi-waterproof booties (plastic bag pieces):

The Ciocc on Lake Wa Blvd.

I think this was 19th Ave, somewhere around there heading up Capitol Hill. I took Crescent Ave off of 23rd (which sucks to ride up), which was a decent climb.
This was a "short but hard" ride - 44 km or so, 28 km/h average speed. I actually averaged 30 km/h for the first hour or so (from the hill around Mercer), which was the highest I've done in a while. But that was no accident, as I used the heart rate monitor to keep the BPMs around 180 or so (90% of max HR, or the upper edge of zone 4). Like they say, I'm trying to "make the hard rides harder, and the easy rides easier."

It was probably best that this was a solo ride, considering the drool/snot that riding hard seemed to generate.

But I think the (semi-structured) training has been paying off. My Functional Threshold has risen to a new level as of today, 3.25 w/kg (228 watts / 69.5 kg).

It's a decent improvement over my last best of 3.10 w/kg, a 4% increase. Nothing major, but something! I'll take it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another RAMROD 2009 Hopeful

Just signed up for the Ramrod lottery this year - of course, if I don't get win a spot in the lottery there's always the option of just doing it as a solo or small-group unsupported permanent (on a different day). But I hope I get in; there's always something special about rolling around with say 799 other bicycles.

Last year's ride was a lot of fun - and if I get in this year I'll definitely ride to the start again. It starts an hour earlier this time around, so I'll have to leave my house at around 2 AM instead of 3-ish to get there in time. As a randonneur, I can type that last sentence with a straight face.

Whether I do the ride as a part of Ramrod or not, I'm glad that things are finally getting towards the thawing of the snow in those beautiful mountains.

This was the view of The Mountain from Elbe (I think) last year:

And Cayuse Pass had some interesting unpaved sections on it, hopefully those will be fixed up by this summer:

Here's to some good pass hunting this year!